Saturday, October 31, 2009
Mount Kinabalu, Home Of The World's Highest Via Ferrata
By Sakina Mohamed
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 (Bernama) -- Ask the man on the street on whether he knows what is 'via ferrata' and it is highly likely that he would return a blank look and say "sorry, no idea".
Repeat the same question to a mountaineer or rock climber, you may get a passionate reply with some glowing experience on it thrown in.
The via ferrata, or 'iron road' in Italian, is a mountain path that consists of a series of steel rungs, rails and cables embedded into the rock face on a mountain slope. It opens up routes for the average hiker that were previously only accessible to experience rock climbers and mountaineers with specialised equipment.
This leisure mountaineering sport had its roots in World War I. The first via ferrata was constructed and used by the Italian military to move troops and equipment across the Italian Dolomites into to Austria.
Climbers can follow the via ferrata without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing.
The via ferrata are found in a number of European countries, including Italy, Germany, England, France, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Norway and Poland as well as a few places in the United States, Canada and Malaysia.
Mount Kinabalu in Sabah has the first via ferrata, not only in Malaysia but also in Asia. Opened in December 2007, it is an alternative route to the top of Mount Kinabalu at 4,095 metres above sea level.
Located at Mount Kinabalu's Panar Laban rock face, the via ferrata is also the world's highest. It begins at 3,411 metres and ends at 3,776 metres above sea level. This was certified by the Guinness World Records.
The via ferrata is a four to six-hour hike from the Mount Kinabalu Park Headquarters.The company responsible for bringing via ferrata to Mount Kinabalu is Mountain Torq Sdn Bhd, a Kota Kinabalu-based entity that promotes adventure and mountaineering activities in Asia.
MOUNTAIN TORQ'S VIA FERRATA
Mountain Torq's via ferrata is approximately 1.2 km long and traverses routes of varying difficulties. It thus caters to all levels of experience, from beginners to intermediate hikers and climbers.
The company's sales and marketing director Quek I-Gek said that this 'iron road' on Mount Kinabalu is suitable for almost all ages, from 10 years old and above.
"The via ferrata is devised to give people with little or no climbing experience the excitement of being above the clouds. You don't even need to be a seasoned or experienced rock climber or mountaineer," she said.
Families, school children and climbers of general fitness levels are particularly fond of one of the activities called 'Walk The Torq'. Measuring 430m long, participants can witness the beautiful natural scenery of Borneo and capture breathtaking shots during the two to three hours walk.
But adventure-loving mountaineering enthusiasts who are craving an exhilarating, adrenalin-charged experience should opt for the hike up to Low's Peak, Mount Kinabalu's highest point at 4,095m.
This is a four to five-hour programme, with a length of 763m, designed for those with above average fitness levels.
Other highlights include walking on a 22m footbridge suspended at about 3,600m above sea level."
As long as you know how to climb a ladder and are still able to do so, you will be able to negotiate the via ferrata. All that is needed is a spirit of adventure, the average fitness level of a normal mountain hiker and no fear of heights," Quek said.
When it comes to enjoying extreme sports like this, safety standards are normally the prime concerns.
However, Quek said that it is the safest of all mountaineering sports including hiking, scrambling, abseiling, rock climbing and alpine mountaineering.Mountain Torq's via ferrata enables climbers and non-climbers to experience the thrill of mountain climbing in complete safety as it conforms to the highest international safety standards.
The via ferrata is able to withstand up to three tonnes of weight. It was constructed by a team of preeminent via ferrata builders from Europe.Safety practices developed and prescribed by the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) for mountaineering sports are also adhered to strictly.
All equipment used in the sport is UIAA-certified and participants are guided at all times by trainers who have undergone rigorous training, with regular skills upgrading based on a syllabus endorsed by UIAA.In addition to that, a continuous belay system is employed throughout the via ferrata route where climbers are hooked up to a guideline, making any deviation from the route virtually impossible.
Besides operating the via ferrata, Mountain Torq is also South East Asia's first mountaineering training centre, offering other mountaineering activities like sports climbing, rappelling and alpine rock climbing.Mountain Torq's alpine-style accommodation at Pendant Hut, located at 3,270m above sea level on Mount Kinabalu Laban Rata rock slab, offers its guests a cosy, eco-friendly hut with a combination of dormitory, VIP and private rooms.
From this location, it is a mere 15-20 minutes walk to the start of the via ferrata.Needless to say, Mountain Torq's via ferrata has played a major role in raising awareness on Mount Kinabalu among mountain climbers around the world.
With the availability of this mountaineering activity, one can confidently say that Sabah is now a world-class adventure destination with a myriad of ocean and mountain activities.More information on Mountain Torq's via ferrata is available at http://www.mountaintorq.com.
Comments: can see via ferrata from the normal route. you'll need to do it on the way back after summiting Low's Peak, that's the low side of this attraction. after reaching the summit, you're just tired and want to get back to Laban Rata and have your breakfast.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
How To Get There?
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The usual me, this is just one of those mountains that can be covered in just a day.
I am refreshing the idea and have been contacting one guy from the net by the name of Ami The Great. He replied my email while he was oversea saying that the park has been re-opened to public quite sometimes. I really appreciate his reply. Other than that he's also saying:
1. climbing the mountain is easy as there are clear trails. The trails are marked with red paint?
2. it's advisable to report to Balai Polis Kg. Gajah before climbing
3. he's not sure whether there are foods at the park. The nearest place to buy foods is at Felda Ulu Dengar / Felda Kahang Timur.
4. the access road is tarred, so moving about is easy
I will definitely include Gunung Belumut in my hiking activities next year. This year is really coming to an end for my hiking activities. From this week onwards, I'll be very busy and would have to work over the weekend until middle of December. Maybe working 7 days a week, putting in 14 hours a day... that's how busy my year end is going to be...
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The longer they stay, the heavier their backpack will be, stuffed with food items, utensils and portable gas burner. Not to forget, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, tent and change of clothes. They'd need to load up all these in their 60 liters hiking bag. That's really heavy!
Personally, I have been doing my climbing the executive way and all the while it's been day hiking too. I don't carry heavy back pack, like in the case of Mt. Kinabalu, I got the porter to carry it to to the top.
Day hiking is easy. You don't have to carry heavy stuffs and you don't have to spend time sleeping in the mountain and preparing your own meals. And I guess it's less fun too! That's why I am thinking about joining all those groups in their more-than-2-nights hiking trips!
As for the preparation, other than physical preparation, it's just as important to have good hiking back packs (can be costly!) and of course the tent, sleeping bag; the whole gamut!
Due to that, I will only be ready for that next year. In the meantime, I'd spend my weekends, hiking Bukit Tabur (my favourite) , Bukit Gasing, Gunung Datuk, Pine Tree Hill, Gunung Nuang (via Janda Baik!), etc.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Saturday October 10, 2009 – The Star
Going up Tabur
Here are some safety tips for first-time hikers:
>Always go with someone who knows the trail well, and never hike alone. Visitors' movements are not monitored in Tabur, unlike in state or national parks. In the doctors' case, their badly decomposed bodies were only found three days later, when one of their cars was spotted near the trailhead.
>If you're scared of heights, you should give Tabur a miss. A friend of mine with acrophobia was scared stiff during our hike in Tabur. It spoilt her outing.
>Start out early. Not only could you catch an amazing sunrise, you can avoid the scorching sun due to lack of shade on the exposed ridge.
>Dehydration or fatigue causes disorientation. It's easy to stumble or lose your footing when you're groggy. Keep yourself hydrated and get in shape. Tabur is not the place to build your stamina due to its rugged terrain. Use flat, easy trails or the gym instead.
>Bring some energy bars or snacks. You never know how long you may end up on the trail, especially if someone in your group is unfit or gets hurt.
>Bring along your mobile phone. In the past, lost hikers have managed to call the police from their mobile phones.
>Avoid hiking after nightfall. You might step into a "bottomless" pit or get hopelessly stranded. In 2003, 13 hikers out of a group of 20 went missing while trying to get down the hill at dusk. They were rescued eight hours later.
>Missing hikers are not uncommon in Tabur. Try not to stray off the path unless you're GPS-equipped or highly experienced.
>It's prudent to register your name at the Melawati Police Station — Tel: (03) 4108 1222 — before your hike. It'll help speed up rescue operations or evacuation should the need arise.
In the websites of outdoor gear retailers like Corezone and Lafuma, you will find groups advertising hikes to Bukit Tabur.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
1MALAYSIA: Gotong-royong the way to go
2009/10/09 - NST
DELREN TERRENCE DOUGLAS, Selangor Youth Information Bureau, Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia
LAST Saturday, Malaysians of all walks of life, from the very young to the very old, irrespective of race, took part in a gotong-royong at Bukit Gasing which was organised by Friends of Gasing Hill and Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya.
The event, which was to plant 350 trees, was directed by PJ councillor Derek Fernandez.
The gotong-royong was undertaken after a forest fire in early May wiped out certain parts of the forest.
What I cherished most about the tree-planting event was that it was done voluntarily by Saturday morning joggers and trekkers out for their weekly excursion.
Everyone chipped in to carry a plant or two from the gathering point into the forest.
The event brought a sense of oneness, camaraderie and smiles between strangers all out to do a common good.
There was also a mother with her two young sons between the ages of 4 and 6 who not only took time to explain to them the reason for the tree-planting but also got both boys to carry a small plant each into the forest.
Those who took part in the event would have also felt a sense of pride at being Malaysian. It gave the volunteers a break from the nitty-gritty of daily life, and from politics that forces us to choose sides.
More such gotong-royong should take place to bring Malaysians together. If anyone wants to know what 1Malaysia is all about, then last Saturday was it.
The Federal Government should emulate Friends of Gasing Hill and MBPJ.
They not only managed to bring the people to come together but also taught them to love nature and help the rehabilitation of the forest.
Politics or affiliation to any political party was not mentioned, thus bringing people from both sides of the political divide together in the gotong-royong.
Syabas indeed to the organisers.
To those who missed last Saturday's event, there will be another round of tree-planting gotong-royong tomorrow at the entrance of the Gasing Hill jungle trail.
What better way to exercise and sweat it out while doing a good deed at the same time.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
SH went to Bukit Tabur last week and it started to rain when he's half way down. What to do, he had to stop at a pondok nearby as he didn't bring poncho. He particularly doesn't like rain during hiking activity as the surface turns out slippery and it's cold too. He has to be extra careful when it rains.
It was only raining on the east side of KL and it was dry on the west side. From Bukit Jalil to Shah Alam, there wasn't a drop of rain at all. Monsoon season is starting soon, that's when the sky is overcast in most days and the temperature is cooler. When that happens SH would really hang his hiking shoes until the monsoon is over.
He noticed the following day that he had blisters (is it really as it contained pus as well?). There were four spots, in between the big toe and the second toe and on the smallest and second smallest toes. They didn't get to dry up under the skin but they ended up bursting leaving the flesh open with no skin. It's painful when he put on socks. For two days at the office, he ended up wearing slippers. It may continue for a few more days.
SH went to see his in-house doctor and she gave him crystal like medicine to be dissolved in warm water. And he had to soak his foot in that warm water of which the color turned out dark purple. The whole idea is to accelerate the drying process of the infected area. Or else, it'll not be easy to recover.
He had to cancel his outdoor activities including jamuan raya. SH hopes to recover soon so that he can continue with his hobby. Hiking!